Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

This recipe was passed onto me by my Aunt Barb and she told me she first remembers eating it at her aunt’s home for Thanksgiving when she was a little girl.  So it’s been in our family for over 40 years!  When something has been around for 40 years and people are still making it, you know it’s good!  Not a single Thanksgiving goes by withtout this dish on our table.  

If you haven’t tried it yet, you probably need to.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

modifying a classic

I know this recipe has already become a favorite for a lot of you out there since I first shared it, but I decided it needed a little make-over and some new pictures. I altered the recipe a bit based partly on your comments! It was no secret these were very sweet, so I played around with it and found I could cut down the sugar by quite a bit. (From one cup to 6 tablespoons!)

less butter & Sugar, but still amazing

I also cut down the butter by a couple of tablespoons in the sweet potatoes and a couple of tablespoons in the topping. So all in all I removed almost 2/3 cup sugar and a half a stick of butter, but it still tastes sweet and rich and perfect. Now you can spend those calories on an extra slice of pie. I also used fresh sweet potatoes after shocking some of you foodies by admitting that my family has been making this with canned ones for years.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Honestly folks? there’s not all that much difference in the finished product, so I say go with whatever your little heart desires (pssst, I almost always use canned.)

Fyi, if you only want to make a half-batch, like to put in n 8x8 pan or pie plate, then those mini cans of sweetened condensed milk are the exact amount you need- just one mini can. I show a picture of the mini cans in this post. Also refer to that post if you make a full batch, and you're wondering how to use the other half of that can of sweetened condensed milk.

You’ll mix up sweet potatoes, butter, a little sugar, vanilla, eggs (I know what you’re thinking: this is sounding like pie) and the secret ingredient, sweetened condensed milk.

Sweet Potato Recipe Thanksgiving Side Dish Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

FYI, if you only want to make a half-batch, like to put in n 8×8 pan or pie plate (which is actually what I’m doing in these photos) then those mini cans of sweetened condensed milk are the exact amount you need- just one mini can. I show a picture of the mini cans in this post. Also refer to that post if you make a full batch, and you’re wondering how to use the other half of that can of sweetened condensed milk.  Spread that out into a casserole dish.

Fyi, if you only want to make a half-batch, like to put in n 8x8 pan or pie plate, then those mini cans of sweetened condensed milk are the exact amount you need- just one mini can. I show a picture of the mini cans in this post. Also refer to that post if you make a full batch, and you're wondering how to use the other half of that can of sweetened condensed milk.

Now the topping.  OH THE TOPPING.  In my family, we always double the topping.  Three simple ingredients that are oh so amazing when they get all caramelized in the oven.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Sprinkle that on top.  Seriously guys this whole recipe takes less than 10 minutes to whip up.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Bake it for about 40 minutes and the potatoes puff up and the topping turns into heaven. 

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

They’re kiiiiinda amazing.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Chances are if you try them once, they’ll become a tradition!

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes


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Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

  • Author: Our Best Bites


These candied coconut sweet potatoes will be the star of your Thanksgiving table! Creamy sweet potatoes with a caramelized coconut topping. To. Die. For.


  • 4 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 4 medium sweet potatoes or two 29-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter (no margarine), softened or melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 of a 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • If you’re feeling naughty you can double this part…
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla to a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until creamy. Spread in a 9×13 pan.
  3. Mix topping ingredients together until everything is incorporated and sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes until topping is golden brown.


  • You can make these a day ahead of time and then bake when ready!


  1. These are sosososososososo good!!! Seriously, everyone here LOVES them and is shocked that a girl not from the South can make the best sweet potatoes they’ve ever had!

    I’ve been cutting the white sugar in the potatoes down to 1/2 c. and it’s still really, really sweet so I’ve been considering cutting it even further. But seriously, my husband HATES sweet potatoes (I know, I know, you’re SHOCKED) and he loves these. So all of you who don’t like them, give these a shot!

  2. Oh, I was also going to say that I’m a stickler on only using fresh yams, but I also get that that’s not always realistic… 🙂

  3. Oh yeah. . . that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

    I honestly never really loved Thanksgiving until I met this recipe. (thanks Aunt Barb) I dream about these sweet potatoes year round.

    Plus this recipe has made me famous at church parties.

    Oh, and Sara – I love your knowledge of Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes.

  4. Okay, one more thing and then I promise I’ll shut up! 🙂 I’ve made these a couple of days ahead of time and stored them in the fridge until we’re ready to cook them–just wait to add the topping until you’re ready to bake them. A super-easy way to cut down on your Thanksgiving stress.

  5. DOUBLE THE TOPPING!!!! I have been eating these for years and I think it is worth it to include ALL the sugar and twice the topping. It’s Thanksgiving for crying out loud, when else are you going to eat that way?!

  6. Oh my gosh . . . this AND rosemary facaccia! I wonder if this would also be amazing as a pie? I am going to try this and maybe give it a try as a pie! Coconut cream sweet potatoes . . .

  7. I promise, I’m not being stingy with the sugar here! 🙂 I’m wondering if maybe if fresh sweet potatoes are sweeter than canned sweet potatoes? Because 1/2 c. sugar is *more* than enough with fresh, bordering on too much. Like sweeter, hands-down, than any dessert we have for Thanksgiving.

    But I agree with doubling the topping… 🙂

  8. I always feel sorry for the sweet potatoes at our Thanksgiving dinner because no one ever eats them. I’m tempted to trust you Sara and try these out this year.

  9. There is no way I am not going to try this. Add coconut to anything and I am game! It does seem like a pie recipe to me. Pie for the main course… I’m not going to complain 🙂

  10. Oh, and Kate, they certainly aren’t lacking in sweetness, so I’m sure you’re right that they still have plenty if you cut it back! I’ll have to try it sometime, but not on Thanksgiving 🙂 lol.

  11. I started drooling the moment I read this recipe and immediately emailed my mom and asked if I could be in charge of the sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner this year. I can not wait to try them! And I agree with Kate- fresh is better.

  12. I signed up for our work thanksgiving potluck a few days ago and planned on making these, now I don’t have to dig up the recipe, thanks Sara. And if anyone is wondering, no -our potluck is not on thanksgiving day, I do work a lot, but my work is not that cruel. For thanksgiving I will actually be in ‘my most favorite city on earth!”. (First person to name the city and best bites reference wins 1,000,000,000 best bites points!!!)

  13. I just started to blog and I first want to tell ya. I love your blog.
    I seriously will be making this awesome looking dish for Thanksgiving. THanks so much love the pictures it looks so YUMMY 🙂

  14. In my 3 years married, this is going to be the first Thanksgiving dinner that I’m actually going to attempt to make. Thanks for the recipes. I love candy, butter, sugar, butter, sugar, and deliciousness, so I think this recipe is perfect for me.

  15. I just made these and they’re in the oven right now. My topping didn’t turn out crumbly and I’m wondering why. Any ideas? I probably didn’t measure correctly.

  16. These are sooooo delicious. Everyone at Thanksgiving dinner loved them. I’ll be making them again this week and hoarding them all to myself. I listened to Kate though, and lessened the amount of sugar. The condensed milk makes it sweet enough that you really don’t need much sugar. I probably did about 1/4 a cup. These will definitely be a new staple at Thanksgiving. Thanks!!

  17. I made these for Christmas Eve dinner at a friends house tonight–they were a huge hit! I actually subbed 1/2 c. coconut milk for the sweetened condensed milk, I only used 1/4 c. brown sugar in the potatoes and 1/2 c. in the topping (full butter though!) It was plenty sweet and everyone gobbled them up. (Except my friend’s kids who wouldn’t try them to find out they were yummy!)

    Thanks for the great recipe. I looked here first because I knew I could get a keeper instead of a flop.

  18. Coconut milk- Bethany that is a *great* idea, why didn’t I think of that?! I’m going to have to try that some time, it sounds fabulous!

  19. I have made these several times now, including Thanksgiving. Even my sweet potato haters like them. I feed a pretty big group every day…7 to be exact. It is hard to please everyone all at once. These were great. The reason I am adding the post is because like Kate, I like fresh better than canned. I was at the grocery store last week and noticed that OreIda has Steam-n-mash Sweet Potatoes in the freezer section. They make things easy without having to do the canned thing. I paired them with some caramel apple pork chops for dinner. Okay, so maybe it was a little sugar rush for dinner, but it was so yummy.

  20. You forgot the chopped pecans/walnuts in the coconut brown sugar candy topping!! Thats the besst part.

    I make these every year (never thought of sw cond milk though)!

  21. I made these last year for Thanksgiving and it was the first dish empty. People were even eating this for dessert after dinner- they are that good. Oh I can hardly wait to make these again…

  22. I've been making a recipe like this more years, yummy! The only differences are I put the coconut in the sweet potato mixture (not the topping) and add chopped pecans to the topping. I think I will use your suggestion and cut down the sugar. The are super sweet and candy like!

  23. Yummmm! I have a recipe for sweet potato casserole but this one may just blow mine out of the water. I think I'm going to try this 🙂

  24. YUM!!! I used this recipe last year on Thanksgiving (I got the recipe from Our Best Bites, of course) and let me just tell you…….it was the BOMB. 😉

  25. I am anxious to try these for Thansgiving, since I have loved every other OBB recipe I've tried. I'm wondering though…we have a few people who HATE coconut (crazy!). I was thinking about just using coconut on 1/2, but what could I do on the other side? Is this impossible?

  26. Jana, I can never understand how people hate coconut! Hmmm…do they like nuts? You could do chopped pecans instead. I personally don't like something quite so crunchy on top of something so super light and soft, but a lot of people make this recipe and add pecans so I know it must taste good!

  27. These look AMAZING! I always add coconut on my sweet potatoes. I think I will try these for Thanksgiving. Love the blog and love that you live in Boise!

  28. Gee this is a first for me. I've never seen coconut added to a sweet potato casserole. I look forward to trying this recipe out.

  29. My mom (also a Barb) has always made these for us. She also sprinkles in some pecans into the topping. These are one of our favorite traditions.

  30. I don't know if you read comments from really old posts but I made this and loved them but I also love the yam and apple casserole my mom used to make with a pinapple glaze.mmmm. I'm wondering if I can combine the best of both worlds and puree green apples n(peeled of course) with my yams and sub some of the butter with pineapple juice (and cornstarch?). Any thoughts on how to make this work. I don't trust my cooking experiments because I don't fully understnad the properties of the ingredients.

  31. Sweet Relief- Yes we see all the comments, no matter how old they are!

    I make apples and yams too and they're SO yummy. I can see your idea working out here, but you'll just have to experiment. I would give it a shot- the flavors would certainly be yummy together!

  32. I just learned all that about sweet potatoes v. yams about a month ago (where was I when you originally posted this?) and find it very interesting. I am calling my sister to tell her that I'm making the sweet potatoes instead of her so that I can use this recipe.

  33. You must try this with pecans! My kids peeled the sweet potatoes by accident so I ended up cubing and roasting them instead of baking, but this dish turned out amazing! I doubled the topping and added about a cup of pecan halves…added a fun texture to the mix. They ate them at dinner then again for breakfast today.

  34. I made these tonight, but I substituted butternut squash for the sweet potatoes and it turned out FANTASTIC!!! Thank you for the recipes and your blog. You ladies inspire me! Love it!

  35. We received this recipe today in Carolina Country magazine and made it for dinner tonight. It is now our favorite recipe for sweet potatoes and in my opinion the only way they should be eaten. Delicious! I know I will enjoy this for years to come.

  36. I am in charge of bringing sweet potatoes to Thanksgiving with the in-laws this year. I have never liked sweet potatoes because they make them with…wait…marshmallows and marachino cherries. Sorry, but that’s just too much sweet for me. Hopefully I won’t be shunned from family gatherings for bringing something different. But I’m willing to risk it if it means no more cherries on the sweet potatoes!

    Thanks for a great recipe, I’ll let you know how it goes!

  37. Can someone please tell me if they’ve tried making this without eggs? We have egg allergies in the family. I’m guessing if we tried making this with canned “yams” and no egg, it would require less baking time too…maybe? TIA

  38. This is very similar to my family’s candies sweet potato casserole. We put pecans in the topping, and we cube and boil the potatoes.

  39. Just threw these together to pop in the oven for tomorrow. I can’t wait to try them! I added a pinch of salt and am going to drizzle the other 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk on top! What a complete, beautiful mockery of a vegetable!! 🙂

  40. THANK YOU! That’s what I heard from everyone at Thanksgiving this year for not putting marshmallows and marachino cherries on the sweet potatoes. So I pass that onto you my friend…THANK YOU! You have made my Thanksgiving sweeter…but not marshmallow sweet!

  41. I made these for Thanksgiving, and threw a few marshmallows on top (totally unnecessary, but my kids always look forward to eating marshmallows with their dinner). Ah-mazing. My sister-in-law looked at me and said, “these should be illegal.”

  42. Made these for Thanksgiving and they of course were a hit! I added quick oatmeal for an extra crunch – loved them. Posted them on my page with a link back to you of course.

  43. At the top above the pic of sweet potatoes you have 1 1/2 cups of coconut for the topping. Then below in the printable version of the recipe you have only 1 cup of coconut.

  44. These were a hit at Thanksgiving! Even the brothers-in-laws who “don’t like sweet things” thought these were the best sweet potatoes they ever had! This is a new staple with my family…I bought your cookbook…I am thinking that I need to buy your calender and everything thing else you have in print.
    Thank you for making our Thanksgiving lovely & delish!

  45. I made these last night, and they were so yummy! I wasn’t sure whether to consider them a vegetable or a dessert. 🙂 I cannot imagine doubling the topping though! I was thinking I would double the sweet potatoes to make it a little less candy-like. 😉

  46. I’m adding some marshmallows. I have to have marshmallows on my sweet potatoes! Maybe use the coconut milk then instead of sweetened condensed to lighten up on the sugar in the topping since I’m adding marshmallows?? Or I suppose I could just decrease the amount of sugar I use in the topping, but then do I risk less carmalization? Help!? OH, and mixed nut topping is a must too.

    1. I would cook it just as instructed and toss some marshmallows on after it’s all done and brown them under the broiler. It’s gonna be sweeeet though, so be prepared! lol

    2. I put mini marshmallows on mine and broiled it for a min. SO AWESOME! She’s not lying, these are the best sweet potatoes ever! 😉

  47. I just got your new cookbook and planned on making this. I have to take a sweet potato dish to Thanksgiving dinner, but to a very large group. Have you ever doubled this recipe in the same dish or would it better to separate it?

    1. I’d use a larger pan or separate it. You CAN put it in a single dish, and it would take longer to cook, but the topping to potato recipe is better if you separate it or use a larger pan.

  48. I made these last year for a friend’s thanksgiving dinner party and brought a dish to the ward Christmas party, which turned into a request for me to make them for the Relief Society Christmas party. I am already getting requests for this year. These are truly the best!

  49. OMG. I just made these today because I don’t like the marshmallowy sweet potatoes, but these were wonderful. Even my daughter who proclaimed I don’t like sweet potatoes, not even sweet potato fries because they’re too sweet liked these. Hubby thinks they’re more like dessert. I have a 2nd batch in the freezer to top & bake for an event in a couple of weeks, I had boiled up too many sweet potatoes.

  50. My husband always asks me to make yams/sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. I’ve never found a recipe that was worth making again the next year…until now. Everyone at our Thanksgiving table loved it and I can stop searching for the perfect sweet potato recipe. This is it!

  51. These were so so good!! I’m holding on to this recipe for sure! I baked the sweet potatoes yesterday, and I’m glad I did because it took twice as long for them to bake! Not sure why…probably because I put them in a foil lines pan…? Anyways, this recipe will definitely visit my Thanksgiving table again!

  52. I made these this Thanksgiving for my sister and her family. Her whole family was concerned, because I haven’t tried them before. I wasn’t worried, I’ve never made anything from your site that I didn’t like, so I knew it would be good. The sweet potatoes got rave reviews, and so did the apple streusel bars. Thank you!

  53. Made this last night – loved it!! super sweet though, I’ll definitely cut back on the sugar next time. If I were to add cranberries to this to break up the sweetness and add some tang would I add whole fresh cranberries or would I have to cook them down in a sauce first?

  54. normally I am not a fan of sweet potatoes but….. these are just about heavenly! i love them and they will now become a Thanksgiving tradition! i would highly recommend!

  55. I don’t buy coconut often but is sweetened coconut flakes what I would normally find in the baking isle of the store? I guess I’ve never notice if the bag says “sweetened” or not. Thanks!!! this sounds so good. I’d like to add pecans to the topping!!!

  56. I make sweet potatoes like this, but I cut them into chunks, then toss them with the coconuts, nuts, butter. I think I’m going I’m going to try it this way this year and see what the family thinks. Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  57. My turkey is brining right now in your amazing recipe!! And I am so making these for tomorrow! Thanks for the tip Kate in the comments about making them ahead of time and then storing in the refrigerator! I am so excited!!! Happy Thanksgiving Ladies! xo

  58. THESE ARE SO GOOD! I made them for the first time today for Thanksgiving, and everyone loved them, sweet potato haters included! My husband already requested these for Christmas dinner.

  59. Oh man. I only made a half recipe, and it was TOTALLY worth opening a whole can of sweetened condensed milk (besides, I’m totally eyeballing that hot fudge. mmm). I was a bit scant with the sugar but made up for it by accidentally adding about a third of the can instead of a quarter – but I still didn’t think the actual sweet potatoes were too sweet. However, with that crispy chewy delicious topping, it really was a treat. Soooooooooo delicious. Thank you for this winner. And next time I’ll probably make it with canned potatoes! (Because there WILL be a next time…)

  60. So I decided to give it a go and whip these babies up for Thanksgiving dinner. Why not try a new recipe out on a crowd, right? I mean, go big or go home! So the verdict? They were amazing! I got so many complements and recipe requests. Thank you ladies for posting such tasty yet achievable recipes. You are by far my number one go to for recipes. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  61. I doubt you will see this to answer my question before tomorrow (yes I am a late planner this year lol) but what would happen if I added green apples to this is small cubes and cubed the sweet potato instead of mashed?? I also thought of pecans…any thoughts?

  62. My sister-in-law made a recipe similar to this at Thanksgiving this year, and it was great! I usually don’t care for the candied sweet potatoes, but that coconut in the topping makes all the difference! Also, hers had chopped pecans in the topping as well, which I really liked. I actually had another helping of the sweet potatoes instead of cake for dessert.

  63. I want to try these this year, but I’m a little hesitant because of the lack of seasoning (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc that seems to commonly show up in these kinds of recipes). However, I also know you guys have never failed me before, so I’m INCHING towards trying them. You promise they’re good and don’t need that other stuff????

  64. I’m tempted to add pumpkin pie spice and call it a dessert.
    Also, how about using the leftover condensed milk with the coconut for the topping instead of the brown sugar and butter???

  65. Made these today and you weren’t joking. These are a new family tradition. Going to have them at Christmas too.

  66. We made these this year for the first time and everyone loved them!

    For those who are thinking of cutting back even more on the sugar -we left it and the sweetened condensed milk out of the whipped potatoes part completely. Oven roasted sweet potatoes with the called for butter, vanilla and eggs was plenty sweet enough. (ok, I added 1/2 t salt) For the topping I kept the sugar the same but upped the coconut to 2 cups.

  67. I know this is an old post, but I just made these for T-day 2016 and they were delicious and a HUGE hit. Will definitely make again. Followed your lead & doubled the topping. Yummy!!

  68. I just wanted you to know that I’ve made these every year since you posted them. I’ve always loved sweet potatoes, and these are by far my favorite that I’ve ever had. I’ll never go back! Happy Thanksgiving!

  69. Holy Mackerel! This recipe is the Holy Grail of sweet potato casserole recipes! Our search for the perfect recipe has come to an end!
    I just made these for a Christmas dinner in London, England where we are living for 18 months, and where sweet potato casseroles are pretty much unheard of. They were a big hit!
    Our family loves the Goodwood restaurant sweet potatoes and we’ve been searching for a recipe that was a good copy but I LOVE this even better! We tripled the casserole portion of the recipe and it worked great. We did add extra topping because it was for Christmas after all!
    I will now FIND reasons to make these scrumdilyicious sweet potatoes! Thank you!

  70. I have doubled the recipe in hopes that I can freeze one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. Would you recommend I cook it first w/out the topping and then freeze them. Then I can put the topping on when I bake it. Also, do you think they can be cooked from frozen for a longer time or would you recommend defrosting them first?
    Thank you. I make this every year. This year I want to be less stressed and thought I would try freezing.

    1. You could honestly do it any of those ways. I’ve never tried it so I’m not positive, but I would probably freeze pre-baked, thaw in the fridge overnight, and then bake per normal instructions. Let me know how it turns out!

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